The new Nikon Coopix S800c is the first Nikon digital camera to be built around an Android operating system, seemingly merging the Digital Camera and Camera phone categories. Whilst the tech savvy have been dreaming of crisp hi-res Instagram images the truth is somewhere a bit off perfection.
As a camera the S800c features a 10x optical zoom lens, 16.1 megapixels and Full HD video recording. There isn’t a huge ammount of buttons cluttering the camera itself, thanks to the touch screen, and the screen produces vivid colours and a crisp display. There is an annoyingly long delay between turning the camera on and being able to take a photo but once it’s booted up operation is simple and the touch focus and shooting mode is a joy to use. Modes and setting are changed using the intuitive touch controls, with everything from exposure compensation to playback being only a few taps away. Once in the playback mode, a separate ‘app’ to the ‘shooting’ mode can be exited with a tap of the shutter button. For all intents and purposes you can use this camera as you have since digital cameras first hit the shelves. The S800c offers much the same features, colours and image quality as the rest of the Coolpix range, including the £89.90 Nikon Coolpix S3300.
The reason you are going to choose the S800c over the rest of the Coolpix range lies in the Android OS. Running on a slightly modified version of Android Gingerbread 2.3.3 the S800c has access to the Google Play store and the thousands of apps held within. As noted, Instagram doesn’t run but within minutes of setting up a new Gmail account you’ll be downloading firm favourites such as Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Angry Birds. Whilst Gingerbread may not be the newest Android OS it’s certainly no slouch and setting up your home screen to suit is simple enough. We didn’t get to test it with a full battery but hammering Angry Birds in between snapping Photos left a lot to be desired.
Android really holds it’s own here, operating as well as on any Android phone. Luckily there is a host of camera apps for android aside from Instagram and downloading any one of them adds new filters and new ways of shooting to the camera. Nikon’s own app is very good but somewhat lacking in the new hip filter market. We grabbed Pudding Camera for Free of Google Play and having a decent sized lens and sensor certainly adds something.
So whilst separately all these elements work well enough, it’s the merging of them that has been made slightly awkward. Switching from the camera mode to the Android home screen takes 30 seconds longer than you expect. Hitting the shutter button at any time doesn’t take an immediate snap shot and the lens popping in and out incessantly means leaving the camera on your desk as you try e-mail yourself photos is a pain. That’s before you look at the price and realise that for £350 you could have a much better camera and a 7inch tablet to play Angry Birds: Starwars to your hearts content on.
Perhaps the biggest omission from the camera is the ability to attach a data plan. There is no 3G model and no space for a micro sim card so you are stuck with Weatherspoons Wifi of switching to BT internet. That means Facebook and Twitter updates have to wait until your home, where you might as well be throwing SD cards into a big screen and choosing from there.
If you want a camera you can play Angry Birds on then the Nikon Coolpix S800c is brilliant. Odds are quality is you main concern as you’ll be swiftly uploading to Facebook or Twitter. The biggest downfall is you’ll probably never use the well thought out and feature rich Nikon Shooting app.
A brilliant proof of concept but still some time away from the perfect Android camera.